Funding for several big tourism infrastructure projects was the topic of discussion at Revelstoke’s Tourism Infrastructure Committee meeting on Thursday, June 25.
The city is one of 14 resort municipalities in British Columbia that receives provincial government funding through the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) every year.
The committee acts as the stakeholder group, which gives input to council about the projects.
The Resort Municipality Initiative has provided funding for many key Revelstoke tourism initiatives, but provincial funding for the program is in question after 2017
“We have to prepare a three-year plan for the province,” City of Revelstoke Director of Community Economic Development Alan Mason said. “We’re trying to get to council a list of projects to be included in the plan for these three years. Some of the projects would happen this year, some next year and some in 2017.”
Some of the possible recommendations for the allocated $1.38 million over three years include:
Alpine Ski facility – $200,000
The plan is to build a clubhouse at Revelstoke Mountain Resort for the Revelstoke Ski Club to store equipment and help host races.
Digital signs on highway – $120,000
The concept is to erect digital signs to promote upcoming events or activities in the community to passing tourists.
“The idea is to attract more visitors to come in off the highway,” Mason said.
Trail and bridge over Box Canyon – $750,000
An addition to Revelstoke’s recreational trail infrastructure, the suggestion is to extend an existing trail along the west side of the Illecillewaet River up the river and add a bridge, linking the trail to Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
“There used to be a dam up there years and years ago,” Mason said. “There is a canyon that narrows there, it’s actually quite spectacular.”
Expand Revelstoke’s urban trail system – $200,000
Extend or make new walking and biking trails to add to Revelstoke’s trail maps.
“It’s always a challenge to get the funding for these,” Mason said.
Improvements to Williamson’s Lake – $150,000
Williamson’s Lake is a city owned facility with a campsite and a beach. The idea is to improve worn-out facilities, including the washrooms.
“It’s the closest beach beside water that locals and tourists can go,” Mason said.
Mason says the RMI has been a boon to Revelstoke tourism
“It’s been fantastic for us, when you think about all the facilities and all the things we have done with that money, I think it has really enhanced the tourism product here,” he said.
“The mountain bike trails — we would never done as many, the Nordic ski trails, the Nordic lodge, the dirt bike facilities, the snowmobiling lodges. There’s lots of facilities we have developed using that money that I think have really helped us bring more tourism.”
The RMI is scheduled to end in 2017 but Mason is confident that the participating resorts can prove the program’s viability and fight for an extension.
“There is some concern that it might end,” he said. “But the province haven’t told us that for sure and I think between now and 2017 the local governments of all the resort communities will be lobbying pretty strongly to have that program continue.”
Municipalities participating are Fernie, Golden, Harrison Hot Springs, Invermere, Kimberley, Osoyoos, Radium Hot Springs, Revelstoke, Rossland, Sun Peaks, Tofino, Ucluelet, Valemount and Whistler.
Revelstoke first started receiving RMI funds in May 2008, which increased annually from about $420,000 to what they are now at about $650,000.
“It went up — initially it was tied into [hotel] room revenues, so you got more as the room revenues increased,” Mason said. “I think Revelstoke saw the largest increase of any of the resort communities by a percentage basis. I think off the top of my head I think we grew about 37%.”
The RMI program was attached to the hotel tax revenue but now it is a separate fund which the city receives, a result of an administrative change that happened when the HST was implemented.
For the complete list of proposed projects up for discussion at the June 25 meeting, see the embedded PDF document below.